For Mennonite Disaster Service executive director Kevin King, the destruction left behind in the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian was unbelievable.
“As far as one could see, everything was destroyed or damaged,” he said of his early October assessment trip. “People were traumatized.”
King visited the two northern islands, the Grand Bahamas and Abaco, that received the most damage.
He was there with Willie Reimer, a former Mennonite Central Committee Canada staff member from Winnipeg, Man., to do an assessment about whether MDS should respond to the huge needs in the Bahamas.
The visit was made under the terms of an agreement with MCC that allows MDS to take the lead in response to an international disaster requiring expertise in reconstruction and repair, if MCC decides to relinquish its lead role.
As a result of the assessment, MDS decided to contribute donations received for Hurricane Dorian to two church-related groups working in that country.
A total of $60,000 will be given to Bahamas Methodist Habitat and the Salvation Army. The funds will be used for materials, training, generators and other ways to assist with recovery and reconstruction efforts. Additional funds could be made available in the future.
“It’s a very unusual situation for us,” said King, noting MDS only works in Canada, the United States and U.S. territories like Saipan or Puerto Rico.
Based on the assessment, King said the best way MDS can help in the Bahamas is by supporting local organizations.
“Groups that are helping are overwhelmed,” he said. “They can use our support.”
Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 hurricane. It was the worst storm to ever hit the island nation. Damage is in the billions of dollars, and at least 65 people were killed.